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Heart by Phi (Did the earth move for you?)

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 February 2011

Phi, hmm! We can expect a challenge. We didn’t have a Phi last year, did we? The last one was 50-50. A grid with no bars. Double hmmm. No down clues. No clue lengths. This is a challenge. We start cold-solving and Phi’s careful cluing leads us to our self-imposed Friday’s twenty solutions and our first breakthrough.

SILVER  must be the extra word in 30 ‘Silver ring attached to friend’s jewel’ OPAL.

TIMBER is extra in ‘King, one taking Arabic garb in timber building in Mecca’ KAABA

ARMOUR comes out of ‘Queen and King leading soldiers in wrong armour’ ERROR (Yes, that’s Phi’s second king but with finesse, this one is R, not K!)

MOULD must be our word in ‘Alloy in mould or most of mould cracked’ ORMOLU

My essential Bradford is inches away and confirms that PLATE is a common factor. We are having a run of lucky guesses this year and numpty no. 1 says, “I bet it’s plate tectonics – look at the title. HEART. Does the earth move for you?” And so we go to bed.

Morning sees us attempting to fit our 35 solutions into a grid.  We have spotted a pattern in what must become the across clues, with POT-VALOROUS matching ROMANS A CLEF.

My 16×12 grid reveals two things. 1. We are going to be compressing 16 columns into 15 (Phi told us that) and 2. TECTONICS (9) is going to appear in that column that will have to move over to the left hand side to make those double letters in columns. (Yes, and we had ULVI for our European city – I wonder whether that was a deliberate Phi red herring!)

Inspiration!

We are dealing with a cylindrical representation of the earth aren’t we? How wily of Phi! Compressing the grid into 16×9 gives us the solutions to our remaining unsolved clues and produces another potential word! What is that ISCAL (TS) MERCAL doing

in that area of wreckage? (We had been expecting some sort of Bermuda Triangle!).

We move our TECTONIC to the left by squeezing its letters into single cells, so that we have fulfilled the requirement of having TECTONICS as the first letters of the ‘pairs in single cells’ and we have our PLATE TECTONIC(S). The S must come from  end  of the final row. Adding those pairs of letters together produces a most unsatisfactory set of letters (EHTMIMAQW).

A bit of head-scratching ensues, then we realize that this is where we have to operate our earthquake. We shift that column up and, hey presto, the maths work! LT = F, EV = A, CR = U, TR = L, OE = T, NX = L and so on. We have a FAULT LINE.  It doesn’t take a genius to see that it has to go into the middle of the grid to put that missing L into the middle of MERCALLI SCALE.

This is truly wonderful Phi – a clear contender for next year’s setters’ trophy. There was a bit of subduction here with one of the earth’s plates shifting right under another and the fault line appearing right in the centre of our grid. This

one merits a bit of coloured illustration so I get my pencils out and produce a rather odd projection. Meanwhile, Numpty number two demonstrates how that brilliant title has to do the same performance of converting itself into a cylinder, so that HEART moves to EARTH.

I remember Erwinch saying in an LWO blog that if you are not sure that you have solved the Listener crossword, then you almost certainly haven’t. That was what was so satisfying about that final revelation. It left no doubt about which (both) items were to be highlighted. A superb piece of compiling. Thank you Phi!

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